If you thought the Hawks had some goalie problems this season, you probably weren't paying attention to the Flyers. 5 different guys have spent time between the pipes for the Flyers this season. Sure, two of them only played in a single game but only Brian Boucher played in more than 30 games... and now he's hurt and may not see any time out of the press box. The Flyers have jumped behind an unproven goalie of their own who so far has come up huge..
After the jump we'll take a look at the net-minders in the first of our series previews.
#49 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
May 19, 1981
|2009 - Michael Leighton||34||1799||17||9||85||2.83||899||814||.905||1|
You may hear a little bit about the fact that Michael Leighton was drafted originally by the Hawks... especially since the Hawks have Patrick Sharp, originally drafted by the Flyers. it's an interesting tidbit, but it really doesn't matter except for a nice story. Leighton was traded from the Hawks for the beloved Milan Bartovic... and I'm sure we all love and remember good ol' Barto. Remember how great he played on Slovakia's 2007 Men's Inline hockey team? Anyone?
Leighton certainly has played well since taking over for an injured Brian Boucher. In 8 games these playoffs he's got an .948 SV% and a 1.45 GAA. Of course the Flyers defense has been playing phenomenally in front of him. And even Flyers fans will (maybe) admit that he hasn't been tested too much in his past 7 games. The Habs (Average height 5'6") don't really have players like Dustin Byfuglien or others who crash the net and stay in front of the crease. Of course, anyone who goes in front of the crease obviously has to deal with Chris Pronger, but that's a matter for the defense preview. The Habs also only managed over 30 shots only once in the 5 games... and that'd be the game they won 5 to 1.
Since Leighton has been so good in this post-season, it's easy to forget how fairly mediocre he's been for most of his career. He's played 103 games in the NHL prior to these playoffs and has a .902 SV% and 2.94 GAA. He's never been more than a journeyman who suddenly is thriving in a starting position at the best of times. The Habs looked utterly exhausted in their series against Philly and even at their best don't present the threat that the Hawks throw at you. It will be quite interesting to see if Leighton can keep up his outstanding streak against a strong offensive team. The book on Leighton is getting him moving side to side. If the knock on Niemi is that he hasn't been tested so far, consider that double for Leighton. He's playing out of his head at the moment and it'll be trouble if that continues but I'm not entirely convinced he can keep it up.
#33 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 02, 1977
|2009 - Brian Boucher||33||1742||9||18||80||2.76||796||716||.899||1|
Boucher is another journeyman goalie who has found a home in Philadelphia this year. He's played in the NHL for 6 different teams since 1999 (including 15 games for your Chicago Blackhawks!). He's got a career .900 SV% and 2.72 GAA. He gained the starting role going into the playoffs when Leighton was hurt and lead the Flyers for the first 10 games. He played well with a .915 SV% and 2.33 GAA... good but not outstanding. Once again, he's been helped by an outstanding Flyers defense.
Boucher went down against Boston though with a sprain in both MCLs (ouch) and has only recently begun skating again. It's uncertain if he'll return to even be the backup against Chicago. If he is needed, it will be a major question mark for the Flyers. Depending on him to be quick enough to play against the Hawks could be a problem. Although if he's brought in.. it likely means the Hawks are already ahead. Boucher can still steal a game from time to time if needed though.
#30 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
Jul 24, 1981
|2009 - Johan Backlund||1||40||0||1||2||3.00||24||22||.917||0|
If the Flyers don't get Boucher back.. expect this guy on the bench. And really... your guess is as good as mine. Backlund played in one regular season game for only 40 minutes. He let in two goals and had a SV% of .917. He has played close to 90 seconds in the playoffs though, so he's not completely untested in the post-season. He didn't let in a goal but seeing as how he didn't face a shot.. that's a damn good thing.
I won't even bother with Ray Emery..